Washington D.C. has the worst racial disparity in COVID-19 deaths in US: report

Report states the District failed to make testing available in predominantly Black neighborhoods

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In the District of Columbia, in the shadow of The White House, more than 550 people have died from COVID-19, more than 74% of them are Black. 

African Americans only make up 46% of the District’s population. 

READ MORE: NYC records its 1st day without COVID-19 deaths since March

The virus has ravaged Black communities and public health experts have said the gap is likely due to the historic health disparities between Black and white Americans. In April, early in the pandemic as the statistics on how African Americans were being disproportionately affected by the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that coronavirus was shining “a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society.” 

A new report from APMReports says that Washington, D.C., “failed to protect Black lives.” 

The report found numerous glaring missteps that cost lives. It claimed that the district was “slow to issue a stay-at-home order,” in comparison to other cities its size. Further, the District failed to make testing available in predominantly Black neighborhoods. 

Senate Takes Up Coronavirus Relief Bill Passed By House
An ambulance sits parked on the plaza outside the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. The legislation in the House bill includes some provisions for paid emergency leave and free COVID-19 testing.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The fatality rate for Black residents in D.C. was 5.9 higher than for white-residents more than double the disparity in Chicago, triple that of New Orleans, and nearly four times higher than in Detroit. 

The disparities highlighted in the report note that in D.C., Black people were already dying 14.9 years earlier than white people—-the largest life expectancy gap of any large urban county in America. 

“There’s not a point in time in American history when you could say that the health of Black people has been equal to the health of white people,” said Evelynn Hammonds, the chair of Harvard University’s History of Science Department told APM Reports. “Never.”

READ MORE: Black Louisiana community impacted by COVID-19, air pollution deaths

The report noted that they tried to reach Mayor Muriel Bowser to comment on her city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that her office requested the questions in advance, and then failed to submit responses. 

Bowser made news last month when she had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street leading to The White House. 

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